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Recalibrating Your End-of-Year Content Strategy

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One

Now that the last quarter of the year is officially underway, you may be reviewing your editorial and promotional outputs to see how you can actually meet your impact and engagement goals. But as you do this, you may be feeling some anxiety or uncertainty about which content strategy approach is the right one to take. 

In a recent Forum One webinar on finishing 2019 strong and setting yourself up for success in 2020, we explored the most common challenges that organizations face when it comes to wrapping up the last quarter of the year and planning for the next one. When it comes to content strategy specifically, the most important thing to do (once you’ve taken a deep breath!) is to focus on your goals and set a realistic plan

Check-in on your goals

Content goals for mission-driven organizations often include:

  • Conversions: A particular goal around new subscribers, new attendees to an annual event, etc.
  • Content partnerships: Building collaboration with external groups and partners to get your content out on mediums you don’t own.
  • Engagement: Targets around people liking, sharing, and referencing your content.

Once you’ve pulled your main goals back up, look at the data to see where you are so far for the year. You can’t reach your goals if you aren’t taking an honest look at your data. Another way to get an idea of where you are is to take a look at the numbers at the beginning of Q4 2018 and how the remainder of the year went. For example, if the last quarter of the year is where you generally see the biggest engagement, you may be in good shape; but if it’s not, then you’ll likely need to make more significant changes.

Prioritize your potential for impact

In order of top goal priorities, outline where you need to focus your content time. And do this as a team; you will be far more creative and effective when it comes to implementing your approach. Some questions to address during this step include:

  • Do you need to create new content around a particular area?
  • Can you focus on updating existing high-performing content?
  • What can you label as a low priority so that you don’t get distracted?

Refocus and reset your existing calendar and set out a timeline to implement the changes. It is normal for things to shift and change, but the better you can maintain a time plan, the more likely you’ll be able to manage content anxieties. This is where content prioritization is key. Key areas to take into account:

  • Which pages get the most traffic?
  • Which emails get the most clicks?
  • Which events bring in the largest audiences?

In general, quality always wins over quantity, so if you have things that are working well, building on them is going to be more effective time wise, and more effective impact wise. This may include adding examples to case studies, or delving deeper into a particular angle of a blog post. It could also be focusing on your social media output around very particular channels (versus all of them), and on certain topics. 

The main thing to do is focus on what your audience wants and needs, and if they have a lot of that already, then just make it better. And don’t just react to internal demands; stay focused on your target audience.

Implement the resourcing and support you need

Whether you’re updating or creating new content, bandwidth is one of the biggest questions around content, so before you commit to what you can do, be absolutely clear on the resources you have. This includes reviewing planned time off, and knowing where team members already know where they are going to be out of pocket because of project events or launches. You may be realistic in focusing on only updating content around a key issue that your audience cares about, but if all the internal experts on your team have zero time to help you, it’s quickly unrealistic. It is also important to be clear about what you can achieve and to what quality level. In terms of expert input, be clear about what is needed and why it matters.

Once you have a good understanding of your resources, and have properly delegated the tasks to accomplish your Q4 goals, address any remaining gaps where you may need additional support. If you don’t have the resources to meet an absolute priority, you may need short-term resources such as a temp or a fall intern who can hit the ground running and help you get there. 

If you are working with other departments and teams, who have their own end-of-year concerns that don’t necessarily map to yours, be as helpful as possible to them so that you can get the support you need from them. Some good approaches include:

  • Share your priorities with them. They may be obvious to you, but not to other departments. If everyone understands why this matters, they are more likely to support you.
  • Give them something to work from. It is easier to get additional input on something that exists versus creating something from scratch.
  • Provide them with additional support. From outlines to ghost writers, it can help take care of the bulk of the weight of a task if things are prepared in advance versus waiting to the last minute.
  • Keep talking to them. Go down the hall or pick up the phone. Make time to talk with your experts so that nothing falls through the cracks.

The last quarter of the year is a busy time for everyone. The main thing is to stay focused on your goals, be realistic in what you can achieve, and collaborate wherever you can. And along the way, remember to breathe, and be ready for the inevitable kinks that will come up (because, let’s be honest, they will).

Next week we’ll be diving into end-of-year outreach strategy to key audiences. You can also revisit our webinar (see form below) to get tips and resources on how you can be more efficient and effective this fall.

Get started already: watch the webinar!

Pull up your second screen and follow along with our webinar “Finish 2019 Strong, and Set Yourself Up for Success in 2020.” Complete the below form to get your free recording today.

Written By

Christina Crawley

Managing Director, Marketing, Forum One